How to identify threads if you don’t know the brand

If you’ve ever inherited a stash of cross stitch supplies you’ll know that you’re both super lucky, and super confused. You see, most people cast off those little thread top labels, meaning you no longer know if the threads you have are generic, or specialist. Being able to identify these threads, or a too-good-to-be-true online sale, is important. You could compare the colors to a color chart, you could look at the quality of the thread, or even the label that’s left on it, but no one has time for that. Especially as there is a 100% guarenteed way to work out what brand your thread is; the barcode.

How to tell

I’m not going to go in depth about barcodes here, but if you’re super interested, this is how barcodes work. The important bit of information for us, is the start. Specifically the first 2 to 6 numbers.

CXC embroidery floss (Source: Etsy)
CXC embroidery floss (Source: Etsy)

The first two numbers state where the brand’s head quarters are. For DMC is in the US. For Anchor its France, and for CXC (and generic threads) its China. The next four numbers are the brand’s own code. Now, whilst it would be great to remember all of these numbers, its frankly not going to happen. Lucky for us, there aren’t that many brands, and most have different head office locations, so instead, we learn just the first 2 numbers.

DMC – 07
Anchor – 71
CXC & generic – 69

It’s that simple. If you see a barcode starting with 71, you know you have Anchor threads. So now you can go out and

But what about generic and branded Chinese threads?

OK, so this is where it get’s a little more confusing. You see, almost all the embroidery threads that come out of China come from the same factory. Specifically, brand 69-4696. So if its Chinese, we need to do a little more digging. Now, we look at the end 2 numbers. There are two numbers that really matter, 14 and 41. You see each item made by a brand has different number for each type of product. In the brand of importance, 14 stands for the CXC threads. 41 stands for Rosace threads. Now, I you’re going to be asking one of two questions at this point:

 

Is CXC the same as generic?
What are Rosace threads?

 
Well, the answer to those is simple. The same factory produces LOADS of different threads. Some are made well, some are made cheap. CXC are the brands top quality product, even though they are CONSIDERABLY cheaper than DMC or Anchor. Rosace is their low tier product line. In fact, when you purchase generic threads, they’re almost always Rosace.

And its that simple. Now go out and identify those threads!

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